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Old sheriff's house opened to public

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JAIL: Tour guests take some time to check out the old jail cells where inmates were kept.
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JAIL: Public tours of the old cells at the historic Wabash County Jail & Sheriff’s House were a popular attraction here on Friday.
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HOUSE: An interior hall of the historic Wabash County Sheriff’s House, which is being restored and repurposed into possible office space.

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

The interior of the old Wabash County Jail and Sheriff’s House was opened to the public last Friday.

Guests were able to tour the old sheriff’s quarters and cells where inmates used to stay, spaces which are now being repurposed by Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit historic preservation group.

The restoration has focused on the exterior since the building was donated to Indiana Landmarks about a year and a half ago.

Paul Hayden, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Wabash office, said the intent was to make the building watertight, as the roof was in poor condition, causing leaks and water damage.

Along with the roof, Indiana Landmarks removed and replaced the building’s porch.

“We didn’t have historic photographs. We modeled our porch on the county courthouse because they were built the same year and designed by the same architects,” Hayden said. “We felt we wanted a mini version here of what is over there.”

The interior of the building has been cleaned out, but extensive work has not begun at this time.

Hayden said he decided to open the historic building to the public after hearing from residents here who wanted to see the interior. The tours were held in conjunction with First Friday last week.

“This building is a part of the heritage and history of Wabash, so that’s why we decided to hold this open house,” Hayden said.

Moving forward, Hayden says Indiana Landmarks will have two primary options for the property: Sell the property to another investor or take out a loan to finish the restoration. Either way, Hayden says the plan is to make the building livable again.

The house was utilized for holding inmates, with the sheriff living on site until the current jail was completed in 1979. The building then became the offices for the probation department until it closed down in 2010. Since then, it had been operating as a storage space for the county commissioners until its donation to Indiana Landmarks in 2017.